Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Prostitution of Soul

I've been sitting here at my computer for over an hour, creating tags for the paintings I will be selling at the art fairs this month, and I am stuck.  I am stuck because I am struggling put a price on my work that feels good to me.  What is too low, what is too high?  I've looked in the books that are supposed to help and all they do is ask more questions...How long did they take to make, how many materials are used in them, what level of technique was used, what sentimental value do they hold for me, framed not framed, what are comparable prices on the market right now.....?.....the questions are endless...the questions are frustrating.  I have never sold a painting to someone who didn't have a personal relationship with me.  This is a problem for gauging my audience, for knowing my worth....i mean my art's worth. - but honestly sometimes it feels like the same thing.  When I was in art school, we used to joke around about it being prostitution of soul, since we put our heart and souls into these artworks, they hold so much worth to us, but no one would want it for more than 50 bucks...  The prostitution of it is ...putting a price on something dear and precious to you to give to someone that will never feel the same way about it.  It's a graphic phrase but feels fitting in this moment.  I want to keep them all.  They each hold a memory of my life at that moment I made it, color choices, textures, and images were connected to emotions I had, the music I was playing, my life story at that time.  I love seeing them all on my walls surrounding me like a diary... a story book of the last 8 months of my life. Moving back to Florida, losing dear friends, making new ones, finding our place in this town again, new jobs, loss of family dog, finding a new dog,  Israel growing...starting to talk (FINALLY)...testing us and pushing on boundaries, and me rediscovering myself buried deep under life roles, expectations, and labels.  There it all is on my walls, looking at me through soulfully painted eyes.

I cannot keep them, I know this.  To keep them would leave no room for going forward, for growing, for learning and stretching my wings.  So they must find new homes, but for what price?  I remember a friend in art school always priced his work in the $1000s dollar level, not because his work necessarily warranted it at that time, but because that was the amount for which he was willing to part with them.  I get it now, but I have to be more realistic than that.  So here goes... I just hope that the people who decide to take them home feel as connected to them as I do.


  1. i understand completely when it comes to pricing artwork. Each piece becomes such a part of who you are, it's hard to let it go. But at the same time you want it to sell and make it into other people's homes. Finding a price that values work appropriately is one my biggest challenges.

  2. Hi, I just came across your blog via a beautiful mess. Your work is really lovely.
    I understand your dilemma with regard to pricing and on the various art forums I join it seems to be a common concern for both professional and amateur artists.
    I have been commissioned a few times to do either lighthearted caricature style portraits or pointy portraits (using pen and ink and a million stippled dots) and again it has been for people I know or friends of friends. I wokr on the basis of charging £10 an hour but as the stippled pieces can take up to 20 hours depending on size, I then worry it might be too much. Even though so much time and effort has gone into it I'm not sure if the recipient will ever appreciate that. I'm not at the stage of selling art work at fairs so don't honestly know what I would charge for work that wasn't a commissioned piece. Good luck with your fair. I've not had a chance to read all of your blog yet - do you make a full time living as an artist? Nicola.

  3. Thanks guys for making me feel less silly :) Its good to know that pricing artwork is a struggle for anyone no matter how long they've been doing it. I think I came up with prices for them that felt to be a good reflection of their worth to me, time put in them, the $ invested in their materials, while still being very reasonable for a buyer. I really do need to sell these. I do not make a full time or part time living doing this so far, and putting on a professional level show for the first time has proven to be very expensive (between the display stuff, inventory supplies, and packaging). So (Nicola), I guess I could say that I actually pay to do this. (hopefully that will change after these shows). Its a good thing I love it so much! :)


Join the Conversation!